Friday, March 27, 2015

For a third year, Northeastern Illinois University will celebrate the life and work of American farmworker, labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez through local volunteer work by students, staff and community members.

The Cesar Chavez Day of Service is March 28, and Northeastern is partnering with community organizations and schools in the Albany Park neighborhood.

“As an institution, we value our diversity. We take pride in being one of the most diverse universities in the Midwest and in being the first four-year Hispanic Serving Institution in the Midwest,” Senior Director of Academic and Community Partnerships Kris Pierre said. “Given that, we are delighted to have the opportunity to honor Cesar Chavez.”

Volunteers will participate in projects that will help beautify the community and make environmental changes.

NEIUGround, the University’s community garden, will again be one of the sites for volunteer work for Cesar Chavez Day of Service. The garden originally was developed through partnerships with the Peterson Garden Project, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Student Affairs during the 2013 Chavez program, which led to their involvement in the Reimaging Food Initiative. The initiative is designed to support student learning and retention through connecting student learning in and out of the classroom.

Another returning site for Cesar Chavez Day of Service is the Global Gardens Refugee Training Farm in Albany Park. Originally a vacant lot, the flourishing farm has helped refugee families grow fresh vegetables for their own consumption as well as earn a profit from selling the produce.

Gompers Park will be a third site of volunteer efforts. Projects to raise awareness on the effect of the emerald ash borer beetle infestation in trees have been developed through partnerships with North River Commission’s Environment Committee, Open Lands and the Chicago Park District.

“This program is not just a Northeastern program; it belongs to all of the partnering organizations,” Pierre said. “It's been a delight to have had the opportunity to work with such a great group of partners.”

The partnership efforts have been so successful that all of the volunteer spots have been filled.

Additional sponsors and partners for Cesar Chavez Day of Service include North River Commission and Roosevelt High School.